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Orleans House (Rosslyn) closing

wayne keyser Dec 19, 2007 11:27 AM

According to News Channel 8, Tom Sarris' Orleans House in Rosslyn will close in less than a month.

"The Arlington County board approved plans on Saturday to build a 600,000-square-foot, 470-foot-tall office building at 1812 North Moore Street - the space occupied by the restaurant. Owner Tom Sarris said he had no option but to sell."

I'd never call it a gourmet delight, but many of my happier memories were born over a congenial meal (and some great roast beef) there.

  1. e
    ed1941 Oct 28, 2010 06:29 AM

    What a bummer. I recall the Orleans House from my first trip to the DC area in 1977. In 2004 I took my wife there for the first time when our daughter was getting married. This is our first opportunity to return and now I find the institution is gone. I had thought it was on the national Historical Register, but sadly it was not.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ed1941
      monkeyrotica Oct 28, 2010 08:45 AM

      I can't think of anything "historic" happening at Orleans House apart from the salad bar running aground.

    2. alkapal Jan 26, 2008 05:56 AM

      stuff is in an online auction, closing feb 8:


      all i can say is, glad they kept the lights down low....

      3 Replies
      1. re: alkapal
        alkapal Feb 14, 2008 08:29 AM

        anyone buy at auction?

        1. re: alkapal
          monkeyrotica Feb 14, 2008 09:31 AM

          I lost my bid for the copper sauce pan. Was tempted to bid on the outdoor "PRIME RIBS" sign, but decided to pass.

          1. re: monkeyrotica
            alkapal Feb 16, 2008 05:47 PM


      2. alkapal Jan 15, 2008 06:43 PM

        did it really close tonight?
        an era has passed! a little sad -- just for the nostalgia factor.

        1 Reply
        1. re: alkapal
          ALLex16 Jan 16, 2008 04:55 AM

          My boyfriend and I went last week just so that we can say we tried it before it closed - I can honestly say I have never seen anything like that place.

          The best thing about the meal was the salad bar, and overall our meal was a little more expensive than we had anticipated, but it was still a great experience and I'll be sad to see that little white building destroyed for yet another tower.

        2. m
          Minger Dec 28, 2007 08:53 AM

          I ate there once after seeing too many ads in a local lifestyle magazine over a period of time. I'm not a big fan of the prime rib and thought the salad bar was boring. While it did seem to have loyal long time patronage, especially sunday church goers, I'd be surprised if it were still attracting new diners.

          Its place in Rosslyn was an anachronism that grew with each new high rise building. I'm surprised it survived eminent domain as long as it did. Holding out for so long, the restaurant ego identification reminds me of some of the situations seen on Kitchen Nightmares.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Minger
            alkapal Dec 28, 2007 11:17 AM

            did the county use eminent domain? that would be really annoying.

            1. re: alkapal
              Minger Dec 28, 2007 12:44 PM

              btw, nothing against *their* prime rib, i'm just not a big fan of it in general.

              don't know if the county used -- or threatened to use -- eminent domain. that was my inference given the facts of the news story. sounded like Tom Sarris was willing to ignore every voluntary offer to sell his land. i just hope he got a fair deal for his very valuable property.

              1. re: alkapal
                wayne keyser Dec 28, 2007 01:40 PM

                Nothing in the news suggests that they did, but ... hey ... when Godzilla's nearby and getting closer, you can hear the footsteps getting louder way in advance.

              2. re: Minger
                MakingSense Dec 28, 2007 01:44 PM

                It might not have appealed to you, Minger, but Orleans House had a steady stream of fans like those church goers, the office workers from those high-rises, and the young military on limited budgets who found real value for their dining dollars. That's going away, not only in Rosslyn but in DC as well, with the demise of places like Scholl's and restaurants where families can get good meals for reasonable prices when they're not on expense accounts.
                I used to take international groups there frequently when I had a tight budget or they had low per diems. A big piece of American beef with the trimmings and an all-you-can-eat salad bar? Heaven for many people from the developing world. The Prime Rib wasn't an option. There weren't many other choices either when we had meetings in Rosslyn and now there won't be anything like it.
                Are we going to be forever stuck now with Olive Gardens, AppleBees and Red Lobsters?
                Sarris' Orleans House was an original. Like Blackie's, AV's, Reeves, Sherrill's, and so many other places that we've lost.

                1. re: MakingSense
                  Minger Dec 28, 2007 03:19 PM

                  Whenever I see a business like that, one with a happy audience and low real estate costs, I think of it as a contribution to the community. After all, they could take the windfall on their real estate and open somewhere else. Instead, they pass to their customers the savings in what would be exorbitant market rents as loving food and low prices.

                  Too bad Tom Sarris couldn't have worked out a deal with an eager developer to swap his property for cash *and* restaurant space in a new building. A Orleans House in the same location could serve the same customers yet evolve with the changing Rosslyn landscape. (Prices would probably go up, depending on the deal.)

                  I think of Hee Been down in Annandale. They kept their location but undertook a major transformation that took them into the new age.

                  1. re: Minger
                    monkeyrotica Dec 30, 2007 03:47 PM

                    I read there was some talk of moving Orleans House, but there was similar talk about Scholl's Cafeteria opening elsewhere but nothing came of that. I can't imagine them being able to afford anything downtown.

                    Fortunately, Doug Jemal will be moving the downtown Waffle Shop interior/facade elswhere.

                  2. re: MakingSense
                    jeanmarieok Dec 30, 2007 03:55 PM

                    I was one of those people on per diem, and a budget, working in that area a lot in the late 80's and early 90's. You couldn't beat it for a the value. I ate there about 18 months ago, for old time's sake, and was surprised at what a great value it still was. I'm sorry to hear it's closing.

                2. w
                  wayne keyser Dec 27, 2007 07:19 PM

                  Except I knew they were cutting back some years ago when a few of the salad bar selections vanished - I do miss the watermelon rind pickle especially.

                  1. e
                    Ellen Dec 27, 2007 04:34 PM

                    My Dad used to take me there when I was in college a few decades ago. He always got the prime rib and baked potato. Back then it was really good prime rib. I remember the salad bar too. For the life of me I have no recollection of what I ordered. I get that place mixed up with Blackies, which was the other place he'd take me. I know I loved the barbeque ribs there. Does Blackies still exist?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ellen
                      alkapal Dec 28, 2007 04:08 AM

                      blackie's is long gone. and the nearby lulu's, which hailed, i believe, from the same owner.

                    2. b
                      bnemes3343 Dec 20, 2007 08:01 AM

                      This is sad to hear. I no longer live in the area, but when my (now) wife and I first met back in the early 70's, we ate there several times. I seem to recall a really good crab imperial. Oh well...

                      1. alkapal Dec 20, 2007 12:52 AM

                        gosh, i'll have to make a trip there soon, then. the auction for the stuff will probably be amazing!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: alkapal
                          monkeyrotica Dec 20, 2007 05:38 AM

                          I got dibs on the steamboat salad bar!

                          1. re: monkeyrotica
                            alkapal Dec 20, 2007 07:59 AM

                            all that wrought iron and lighting fixtures and semi-erotic statuary!

                            1. re: alkapal
                              monkeyrotica Dec 27, 2007 11:00 AM

                              Stopped by Orleans House for lunch today. Big medium rare prime rib au jus with horseradish and an icecream scoop of mashed potatoes, big salad from the steamship, and a cup of hot tea for $25. That's including a 20% gratuity. I've had worse prime rib at twice the price. I'm definitely hitting it a few more times before they shutter on 15 January.

                              Also, a note from Tom Sarris on the tables said that they'd be auctioning everything inside online at rasmus.com. If I can't afford a wrought iron chair or two, I'm going to get one of those huge salad dressing crocks.

                        2. m
                          MikeR Dec 19, 2007 12:06 PM

                          Actually, my fondest memories of that place were when it was Rucker Electronics, but my family used to go out for dinner every Saturday when I was a kid, up through my teens, and the various Tom Sarris restaurants were favorites of ours, the original Ranch House in Rosslyn, the fancy one in one of those high rise buildings that went up in the late 50s, and the one on Wilson Blvd about across the street from where Ray's The Steaks is now, and of course the Orleans House.

                          Just what they need in Rosslyn - another 470 foot tall building. Ho hum. It'll probably have an expensive restaurant.

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