A new food hall that aims to attract remote workers opens next week inside the renovated complex above the Rosslyn Metro station in Arlington. Officially debuting Tuesday, August 3, the Assembly boasts 29,000 square feet of dining space across two floors and an outdoor terrace. The 625-seat venue presents customers with a single menu that pulls from six vendors. There’s also a gourmet market loaded with grab-and-go options and a yet-to-open oyster bar.
Similar to Rosslyn’s other food hall, Happy Eatery (nee Happy Endings Eater), the Assembly (1700 N. Moore Street) does not rely on any outside vendors. Chicago-based DMK Restaurants manages the operation, introducing six different brands developed by two chefs. Brian Hutson, a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2015 for his work at now-closed Boltwood in Evanston, Illinois, is the group’s corporate chef. Assembly executive chef Cameron Cousin comes from now-shuttered Max Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church.
Unlike other food halls where diners might wander from stall to stall, the Assembly will have hosts seat customers at tables where they can order food directly to their seats using a QR code. This is a similar setup to the Roost on Capitol Hill, although Neighborhood Restaurant Group brought in some big-name external partners.
The six brands sending dishes to the Assembly’s menu include:
- Big Day Coffee: for espresso drinks, doughnuts, pastries, and specials like horchata cold brew
- GiGi’s Greens & Grains: for salads, grain bowls, and smoothies like a blueberry-mango flavor packed with kale and flax seeds
- Sammy’s Pickles: for made-to-order deli sandwiches on 6- or 12-inch rolls
- Great Lakes Diner: for American diner food such as all-day breakfast dishes, burgers, fries, and fried chicken sandwiches
- Charo’s Tacos: with fillings like fried cod with chipotle mayo to a vegan seitan “chorizo”
- Beng Beng Asian Street Food: generically described in a news release as a vendor that celebrates “the rich history of Asian fare from their incredible street culture.” Asian dishes that appear on Assembly’s first menu include a pork belly and napa cabbage dumpling and cucumber salad with ginger and poppy seeds.
Fog Point Oyster Bar, a full-service restaurant with a separate entrance, should open within the next two months, says DMK owner David Morton, part of the family that founded chain steakhouse Morton’s. A few dishes from Fog Point will eventually join the Assembly’s menu, too. Morton would have liked Fog Point and the Assembly to debut earlier, but the COVID-19 pandemic created delays. Despite the wait, Morton says he hasn’t felt deterred.
“The Morton’s family has survived wars, Spanish flus, depression and recessions,” he says. “We’re surviving this too, and we’re excited for the world to come back together as much as everybody else is. Rosslyn and Virginia is one of the fastest growing markets in the country, explosive from every possible metric, and it’s the perfect location.”
Morton’s website says the company’s first restaurant opened in 1978. Morton adds he’s a fourth-generation restaurateur, dating back to a saloon his great grandfather owned in Michigan.
Developer American Real Estate Partners first announced it was building a food hall as part of a $35 million renovation for Rosslyn City Center two years ago. AREP originally partnered with Texas-based food hall operator Oz Rey, but the group terminated its lease last year, Washington Business Journal reports. Shortly after Oz Rey left, AREP approached DMK. The company already operates Chicago complexes Hayden Hall and the Exchange, and Morton jumped at the chance to move into Rossyln, where he hopes to provide an all-day option for teleworkers to eat, drink, and relax once they log off.
The massive space’s colorful interior design comes from Karen Herold of Studio K Creative. Herold’s portfolio includes Chicago’s Nobu Hotel, Foxtrot Market — which recently opened several D.C. locations — and the Girl and the Goat restaurant in Los Angeles.
Morton says he believes in the mindset that “it’s more fun to eat at a bar than to drink at a restaurant,” so he made sure to include six bars and countertops spread throughout the Assembly, including four inside and two on the outdoor terrace. The indoor bars feature look into the kitchen, and the two outdoor bars are separated by alcoholic and non-alcoholic menus.
“Our outdoor space, we were aiming for a SOHO House vibe,” says Morton, referring to Manhattan’s exclusive outdoor social club. The Assembly’s drink menu includes cocktails, craft beers, and wines. Its indoor lounge and outdoor terrace has a happy hour (4 p.m. to 6 p.m.) features a “buy one, get one half-off” discount on shareable-sized cocktails.
PNTRY, the market component, will carry imported groceries and features a prepared food bar, a panini press, and a 500-bottle wine cellar.
To start, the Assembly will open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the coffee and smoothie bars opening at 6 a.m. and adding Saturday hours.
This story has been updated with more information about the Morton family history