Downtown Leesburg’s restaurant scene welcomed its newest addition recently with Bites Wine and Grilled Cheese Bar.
Behind Bites is a familiar face in the historic district, who made his name known just a few blocks away from his newest restaurant. Not even two years ago, Damian Dajcz announced his entry into the Leesburg restaurant scene with the opening of Señor Ramon Taqueria at 15 Loudoun St. SE. The Ramon’s empire expanded east, with the opening of another eatery at Crooked Run Brewery’s Sterling location earlier this year.
Moving quickly is second nature to Dajcz. A chef by trade, he has been in the hospitality industry for 24 years. He worked in major corporate chef positions before embarking on his own. He started with food trucks and within six months went from one to three. He had just as quick a start when he moved to commercial kitchens, also quickly going from operating one to three. It was when he decided he wanted to do something different “for fun” that he landed on the Señor Ramon concept.
Now, Dajcz has added Bites to his offerings. The wheels began turning when downtown antiques purveyor, The Cottage, left its space on 105 S. King St. Not long prior Delirium Café had signed on to lease the space next door and Dajcz knew that corner would quickly become a destination for diners in and out of town and he did not want to miss out.
“I decided I would rent the space, and figure out later what I wanted to do,” he said. “Their expertise is on beer, so I said I’ll do wine and what goes well with wine, cheese.”
A staple comfort food, Dajcz’s menu ranges from your everyday grilled cheese stepped up a bit—the King Street Classic features American house blend cheese and Cheddar cheese on sourdough bread—to the Azul, which features blue cheese, Gruyere blend, prosciutto and fontina fig spread on cranberry walnut bread. Other sandwiches feature ingredients like bacon, grilled mushrooms, and Señor Ramon’s famous grilled guacamole, in a sandwich named in homage to its Loudoun Street neighbor. Gluten-free bread is also offered for those with gluten intolerances.
Fans of Señor Ramon will see some similarities between the two menus in that they carry items named after family members of both Dajcz and Operations Manager Ashley Saxon, a close family friend of Dajcz, as well as nods to destinations in Leesburg and Loudoun County.
In addition to the delectable sandwiches, Bites’ menu features salads, soups and charcuterie boards that pair well with all the bar’s offerings.
As far as libations go, Bites’ drink list is just as eclectic as its cuisine. Saxon and bar manager Katie Kavinsky have put together a menu of draft beer and cider, including selections from local breweries, as well as wines by the glass or bottle and house-made cocktails. Bites’ sangria is Saxon’s mother’s famous recipe that she concocted while the family was stationed in Spain. The staff kegs and makes it from scratch in the restaurant.
The interior of the restaurant is just as impressive as the menu itself. Remarking on the “transformation” of the space, Dajcz has turned the former antiques store into a modern restaurant, with just fewer than 60 seats both indoor and outdoor. It even includes a bar that Dajcz says is always full of patrons. He said he will likely add a TV inside the restaurant to show sports games. Happy hour offerings are also anticipated.
Saxon said the staff has aimed to make the space accommodating for families, and initial response has been through the roof.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been the best kind of response from the town,” she said.
Like Señor Ramon’s, Dajcz’s aim is to keep the prices low, but the quality high.
“We’re just trying to take price out of the equation without compromising on ingredients,” he said. “We don’t want to you to be a customer once every two weeks. I want you here every week.”
And if anyone thinks Dajcz will sit back to take a break and reflect on the success the past two years have brought, think again. He is eying yet another Señor Ramon’s location, but this time outside of Loudoun County. He also believes he will reprise the Bites’ concept elsewhere.
“The hardest part was the legwork in developing recipes,” he said of Bites’ start. “Once we figured that out, to build a place and set it up, is easy.”
Bites is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.
For more information, go to Bites Wine and Grilled Cheese Bar on Facebook or call 571-918-4643.