Why is Arlington Losing So Many Popular Restaurants?

Turnover has become a regular occurrence in Arlington's dining landscape. What's going on?

Photo by istockphoto

When Tim Ma opened Water & Wall in Virginia Square in 2013, accolades quickly poured in for his unique style of French-Asian cuisine, as expressed in dishes such as mussels in saffron-coconut broth with Chinese sausage, ginger, lemongrass and chilies; or bourbon-spiked chicken-liver paté with duck prosciutto, sweet green chili relish and orange-vinegar glaze.

Ma garnered “Rising Culinary Star of the Year” nominations three years in a row from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, yet visits to Water & Wall slowed to a trickle. This despite his attempts to generate renewed buzz with seasonal pop-up menus and a creative kids’ menu. The restaurant served its last meal on Valentine’s Day 2017.

Today, Ma’s romance with the suburbs appears to be mostly over. (After selling his first venture, Maple Ave. Restaurant in Vienna, to a staff member back in 2015, his only remaining eatery in Virginia is the sandwich shop Chase the Submarine.) He’s now channeling his energy into two new urban properties: Kyirisan, the restaurant in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood that he owns with his wife, Joey; and Ten Tigers Parlour, a lounge and event space in Petworth (the brainchild of restaurateurs Eric and Ian Hilton) for which Ma created a bar menu of Asian-style street food.

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