MacDowell, Scarps Proposals Offered Different Visions, Higher Lease Rate for Mighty Midget

While Leesburg’s Mighty Midget Kitchen is expected to return to its original location at the triangle of East Market and Loudoun streets by early 2021, more details have been released about the two other proposals to lease the structure.

Gordon MacDowell, who has hosted the Midget on his property for the past 25 years, and Scarps Breakfast Joint, run by Anthony and Wendy Scarpinato, were the two other offerors for the Midget lease. In not releasing the two other proposals prior to Tuesday’s council deliberations, the town cited a provision of the Virginia Public Procurement Act that allows proposal records to remain closed to public inspection until after award of the lease. MacDowell’s and Scarps’ proposals were released to Loudoun Now by request Wednesday.

A review of the two proposals shows that Moms Apple Pie, the successful bidder for the lease, actually offered the lowest lease fee, at $50/year, the minimum bid set by the town. MacDowell offered to pay the town $1,200/year, and Scarps offered $100/year. In its proposal, Moms cited the high cost of repairs and rehabilitation that would be needed before the more than 60-year-old structure could reopen as a restaurant, not to mention the logistics and cost that will go into relocating the Midget. 

MacDowell’s proposal called for the Midget to remain at its current 202A Harrison St. address, on property owned by MacDowell and next to his MacDowell Brew Kitchen. The proposal stated that MacDowell Companies has been working on a plan for years to reincorporate the Midget into an overall “block concept” of dining and entertainment in downtown Leesburg. 

“Our vision is to establish the [Midget’s] structure to its nostalgic, historic charm. Much of the original menu shall be brought back as well as healthy fare options and rotating specials,” the proposal stated. 

The proposal contrasted from Moms’ contention that extensive work was needed to bring the Midget up to Health Department standards, and said that the only work needed on the Midget was the repair and restoration of its iconic neon sign. MacDowell’s proposal said the Midget could return to service almost immediately if the lease were awarded to him, following necessary licenses and inspections, menu updates, staff training, and the restocking of food and beverage. 

MacDowell was awarded the lease for the Midget in 1995, and has hosted the recycled B29 bomber turned kitchen on his Harrison Street property ever since. While on his property, it served as the main kitchen for Brian DeVaux and his B’z BBQ business, as well as Doner Bistro for 11 years prior to the restaurant’s relocation last summer. 

Scarps Breakfast Joint, LLC, proposed to relocate the Midget to Leesburg Executive Airport. The Purcellville-based Scarpinatos established its food service business in April 2019, and operate a temporary location at the Purcellville Farmers Market, according to the proposal. The business has quickly made a name for itself with its signature breakfast burritos. 

Both Anthony and Wendy Scarpinato have aviation backgrounds, and said in their proposal that relocating the Midget to Leesburg Executive Airport “will enhance the continuity of its identity.”

“There is no better location to have this piece of history located than at the Leesburg Executive Airport. Inside the airport there is currently a historical area that provides the public with facts about aviation and the history of the airport. Having this historical structure located at the airport provides the Town another chance to enhance that historical area by providing facts about the Kitchen. It is also advantageous to the Town because there is currently no food being prepared and served to the public at the Leesburg Airport. Many aviators are in search of the ‘$100 Hamburger.’ Pilots are mission orientated individuals; give them a reason to fly to Leesburg. We are that reason. Food is that reason. If we can provide a food option for student pilots, their instructors, and the rest of the traveling public, the airport is sure to benefit from having food available on its property. This in turn could also provide more visitors to the Town itself and have a positive economic effect,” the proposal read. 

Scarps cited several areas of the Midget in need of rehabilitation, but said it believed the Midget could be operational within three months of a lease award. 

Moms Apple Pie owner Avis Renshaw said it will be at least six months or more until the Midget is up and running next to her pie shop, where the Midget operated from 1947 to 1994. She anticipates a menu featuring food made with local, Loudoun County-based products.

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