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Gourmet Market in Old Town Is Struggling to Compete With Taco Bell Cantina

Society Fair says it will close this week unless it raises $50,000

Society Fair/Facebook

In a move described as a “Hail Mary” on its GoFundMe page, the Society Fair market, bistro, and events space in Old Town Alexandria has announced a crowdfunding goal of $50,000 to save its business.

The page that “Team Save That Big Ass Choc Cake” published Saturday describes how a brutal 2018 has put Society Fair in position to shut down for good by Friday, February 8, unless its community of fans can come up with the cash. As of Monday morning, the GoFundMe page had raised $2,875.

The post says that Society Fair had to replace its catering manager and its butcher last year. The combination of the extended government shutdown and freezing temperatures throughout December and January “were like a final one-two punch.” Co-owner Nadine Brown tells Washington City Paper that between baked goods, catering, wine service, and the butcher shop, the business tries to do too much. “This is a unforgiving business at times and we have made mistakes,” the GoFundMe page says.

There’s also a new competitor that moved in during late December. While going through the list of Society Fair’s struggles, Brown tells WCP that “there’s a new Taco Bell Cantina around the corner that’s selling $6 slushies that’s packed.”

Society Fair recently lost an investor, Brown tells WCP, which led to the drastic step of putting the business up for auction. The crowd-funding effort is a last resort to avoiding selling the business. Brown, a former award-winning wine director at Charlie Palmer Steak, reveals that she and her husband, former Restaurant Eve chef Dan Fisher, bought Society Fair from the Eat Good Food Group last year.

Society Fair’s original ownership group, led by Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong, closed fine-dining flagship Restaurant Eve last summer after opening Kaliwa, their Thai/Filipino/Korean restaurant on the Southwest Waterfront. Society Fair opened seven years ago, quickly drawing two and a half stars from Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema.

Society Fair

277 South Washington Street, , VA 22314 (703) 683-3247 Visit Website