“Food is common ground, a universal experience.” – James Beard
If you’re from Northern VA you’ve probably heard of the Great American Restaurants (GAR) family or at least one of their restaurants. They currently have 13 restaurants – 12 being in Northern VA and the last in Gaithersburg, MD. Sweetwater Tavern and Coastal Flats are probably their most well-known with each having three locations.
GAR is not only known for the food but for their great service and for being a great company to work for. They’ve even been on Washington Post’s Top Workplaces list for the past five years. In 2018 they came in at Number 2 for large companies.
Randy and Patsy Norton are the patriarchs of these fantastic restaurants and the family that leads them, and after 50 years together and almost just as long in the hospitality industry, they’ve finally agreed (with much persuasion from their children) to open two new restaurants with their names.
Patsy’s American will feature favorites with classics from all of their existing restaurants and Randy’s will be a prime seafood and steakhouse. Additionally, they will be opening a second Best Buns Bakery & Cafe.
All three restaurants are right next to eachother with Best Buns and Patsy’s actually being connected with a doorway that can open and close. Best Bun’s actually opened on May 25th so as of today’s mock lunch, guests were peeking in.
I was invited to a mock lunch today for Patsy’s and obviously had to go. I got to the restaurant first and while I was waiting, Patsy and Randy walked in. The employees geeked out in PURE joy over seeing them. My friend who invited me to this lunch is actually close friends with the Norton family and when my friend walked in, Patsy instantly greeted her. They started chatting and she introduced us, and let me tell you – Patsy is a gem, honestly.
Anyway, back to the restaurant. When you arrive for your reservation and are taken to your table, you are given a card that explains how the meal will go and an envelope that will tell you what food items will be served to you that day. All the food is scripted during mocks to help keep everyone on track with practicing prior to open. Non-alcoholic drinks, two identified alcoholic drinks, one shared starter, four entree options/one per person (we had a party of four), and a shared dessert are all part of the mock. You are also given the menus to see what their offerings will be once they’re opened.
click each image of the menu to enlarge and get a better view.
Everything was SPOT. ON. The food was soo good, per usual (based off their other restaurants). You’re probably thinking “there had to be at least one con” well yes, I’m glad you asked. There’s one con for me.. they don’t have their chicken tenders on the menu! *insert sobbing emoji here* I guess the tenders aren’t as famous as I thought they were since they didn’t make the cut for this menu full of classics. Honestly though, that’s ok. I can always go to Sweetwater for them!
Besides the food, the restaurant itself is so pretty, I loved the decor. The high ceilings and natural lighting are amazing and matched with perfectly picked lighting fixtures. The murals (as with all their restaurants) are beautifully done. Also, a fun fact that I learned today, apparently one mural in each restaurant has the family members painted into it. The photo below on the left is the one that features the family.
Once the restaurant is fully opened I’ll also be looking forward to checking out the bar.
When I tell you I was already a big fan of GAR restaurants, well here it is. Sweetwater is one of my favorites, especially with their chicken tenders and beer options. Coastal Flats is a solid second and a top choice for when I’m shopping at Tyson’s Mall and Jackson’s is a STAPLE in Reston Town Center as a bar.
I completely understand that this was a mock and that usually at mocks everything is A+ but since I’m a big enough fan that I’ve been to their restaurants dozens of times over the years, I’m familiar with what their standards are. It’s very rare that I’ve had bad service and even when I’ve had, I’ve never had a manager not make up for it. I’m definitely looking forward to their full opening!
So where are these three new restaurants going to be? If you’re familiar with the Tysons Corner area, they will be right next to the Nordstrom Rack on Rt 7 near where the old On the Border used to be, I believe, or maybe it was the old Chili’s – one of the two. Either way, you can see the sign for Patsy’s and Randy’s from Rt 7!
I hope you all go and check them out! They’re already accepting reservations for Friday and onward on Resy. Let me know if you’ve ever heard of GAR and what your thoughts are!
Until next time,