Local Commentary

Editorial: Prime Time for Marketing

Hopefully the weather will be perfect this Saturday for the third annual Taste of Falls Church, being held in conjunction with the City’s annual Falls Festival, in the parking lot behind City Hall.

For the second straight year, the News-Press has produced a special section dedicated to fine dining, focusing on local restaurants and establishments, in conjunction with the Taste of Falls Church.

The biggest news to come out of City Hall last week was about meals tax revenues in the final report on the fiscal year that ended June 30 from the City’s Chief Financial Officer John Tuohy. Meals tax revenues shot up, to everyone’s surprise, over the previous fiscal year, and this in an overall morose economic climate, when real estate values and retail sales are all otherwise down.
Citizens of Falls Church should appreciate how important this news is in terms of the City’s goal to become a chic destination for outsiders to come and spend their dollars. It is proof that this is already beginning to happen, even in advance of what some call a needed “critical mass” of new mixed use development projects, most particularly the $317 million Atlantic Realty City Center project.

City Manager Wyatt Shields told the News-Press he attributes the unexpected jump in meal tax revenues to “the fact that the restaurants here are very good.” Yes, but it is more than that: it’s also because the word is getting out to the wider region about them. Although no one can tell for sure, it is almost certain that the big jump is fueled by people coming into Falls Church to dine, and not merely from bigger appetites among the City’s existing local residents.

Zpizza’s local proprietor, for example, reports that his Falls Church location is the second-highest revenue generator of all others among the company’s franchises. The high quality of that company’s product, as with Natalia’s, are reported elsewhere in this edition. Already more widely known is the quality of such City restaurants as Haandi, Pilin, Argia’s and Ireland’s Four Provinces. Almost by instinct, new restaurateurs are picking up on the fast-growing popularity of Falls Church establishments, and are making plans to jump into the mix. At 444 W. Broad, a new Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant is preparing to move in, as is Foster’s Grill nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue. At the new Tax Analysts building adjacent to Pearson Square on S. Maple Street, another gourmet pizza restaurant is set to open.

In the context of all this, we praise the pro-active approach taken this week by the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce board, voting to spur the City Council to adopt an action plan and financing for a major marketing effort of the City’s offerings to the wider Washington, D.C., metropolitan region. The news of the meals tax revenue hike is the signal that the time is ripe for such a long-awaited thrust.

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