The fact that recently relocated ice cream shop/deli Lazy Mike’s straddles the border between Falls Church City proper and Fairfax County means the storied eatery has now opened three times in three different jurisdictions over the past 20 years.
Granted, the homegrown sweets shop has evolved significantly since it first arrived on the scene. But then so have its dedicated champions: sibling restaurateurs David and Rebecca Tax.
A graduate of Howard University School of Law who briefly worked in the insurance industry, David ditched corporate life to open his first dining establishment with sister Rebecca. The Taxes lived in Arlington, Virginia, and picked Clarendon as the spot to open their inaugural eatery: Lazy Sundae.
At the time, Clarendon bore little resemblance to the highly developed, commercial hub it is today. “It was more family oriented, fewer singles,” says Rebecca Tax. “The millennials didn’t exist then. We were serving them ice cream with their parents.”
For years, Lazy Sundae served its brand of wildly flavored ice creams next door to neighborhood watering hole Mexicali Blues, which the Taxes co-owned along with another partner.
“This was when the Apple Store was a Sears Automotive,” Rebecca Tax notes.
Their success with Lazy Sundae led to other restaurants. They sold Mexicali Blues to their former partner and opened Big Belly Deli in Clarendon in 2001. Next came Clare and Don’s, a family-friendly seafood spot known for its crab cakes and fish tacos. As rents rose and the chains closed in, the Taxes decided to start fresh elsewhere. Big Belly Deli was sold in 2004. Lazy Sundae was transplanted to Falls Church in 2006, followed by Clare and Don’s in 2007.
In 2008, they began serving sandwiches at Lazy Sundae — drawing from their experience at Big Belly Deli — but dubbed the new component, Mike’s Deli in honor of their late father. (He is depicted on the cover of the menu at Lazy Mike’s in an old fashioned VW bus with an ice cream cone stuck to its front.) For a while they operated an ice cream truck, which Rebecca liked but David didn’t, since he is 6 feet tall and the vehicle’s interior was lower.
Things remained steady over the next decade. Once developers began carving up lots all around Lazy Sundae’s second home (112 N. West Street), the Taxes figured it was time once again to move on.
“We are serial restaurant openers” Rebecca Tax says. They describe their newly relocated restaurant as serving good food — the current lineup includes all-day breakfast, specialty sandwiches, and ice cream — with no-frills.
But the serial openings may be slowing down, as both Rebecca and David now feel they’ve made their most permanent changes to date: creating a new name for the shop (Lazy Mike’s) and moving it into its most prominent location yet. They like the visibility of their new location, at the corner of Leesburg Pike and Shreve Road in Fairfax County, on the border of the city of Falls Church.
When they re-opened in October 2017, it was unseasonably warm.
“We were crushed,” Rebecca Tax says of the late season rush. “We went through as much as ice cream as the whole prior year at the old location.” These days a bright ice cream sign beckons to passersby; being near the bike trail on the W&OD trail helps too. David says his favorite flavors are honey baklava and a peanut butter- and jelly creation, something he was initially skeptical of but has since pronounced “delicious.” Rebecca is partial to a cinnamon-laced creation. “It’s ice cream with real fireballs,” she says, describing it as “spicy, creamy and sweet.”
Overall, the Taxes are happy to keep doing what they’ve been doing for as long as local diners will have them. “Falls Church is a lot like what Clarendon was like in 1996 when we opened Lazy Sundae,” David Tax says, adding, “This is more along the lines of the business that we were trying to do.” He stresses that the goal has always been to bring everyone together, including families.
“We want to make everyone feel comfortable, from 2 years old to 98 years old,” David Tax tells Eater.
But time may now be working against them. David says he’s only a few years away from “wintertime retirement;” the plan is for he and his wife to spend winters in Florida, where they are both from and where their two grown children now live. And they are still a ways off from being able to hand things over to the next generation; Rebecca’s 12-year-old son just started working at Lazy Mike’s on weekends.
But are they officially done? Has the winding trip from Arlington to Falls Church to Fairfax County reached the end of the line?
“Well, we aren’t going into Fauquier,” David Tax says. He insists they are done opening new restaurants, but acknowledges that things can always change. “Don’t give us a huge period after that sentence.”
“Just add a dot, dot, dot,” suggests Rebecca Tax.