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Jaleo by José Andrés Is Closing in Crystal City as Arlington Prepares for a Boom

The famous chef’s oldest operating restaurant brand is down to one D.C.-area tapas spot

The bar at Jaleo Crystal City
Jaleo will be down to one D.C.-area location when the Crystal City location closes Sunday, October 3.
ThinkFoodGroup

Spanish standby Jaleo by José Andrés is about to close its Crystal City location after 17 years in the Arlington, Virginia, business district, according to a representative for ThinkFoodGroup.

The restaurant will shut its doors Sunday, October 3, leaving the iconic brand credited with shepherding tapas into mainstream American dining culture with one D.C.-area restaurant, the flagship in Penn Quarter downtown. With a glut of office buildings, Crystal City fits the profile of a neighborhood hit hard by a COVID-19 pandemic that forced a rise in remote working culture.

Before the COVID-19 crisis, Jaleo boasted three locations in the greater Washington area. In May of 2021, the famous chef and humanitarian replaced the Jaleo in Bethesda, Maryland, with an anticipated offshoot of home-style Spanish Diner.

A statement TFG provided to Eater says the Jaleo closure comes “in anticipation of the continued transformation of the neighborhood,” which references the impending arrival of tech behemoth Amazon and the rebranding effort to group neighborhoods around Reagan National Airport as National Landing.

“We are incredibly grateful to our dedicated employees and for our friends and neighbors in the area for their support,” the statement says, adding that all the employees in Crystal City have been offered new jobs within the international hospitality group. “With Amazon HQ2 and JBG SMITH’s exciting development plans, we look forward to exploring possible new concepts that might be part of National Landing’s dynamic future landscape.”

While Jaleo is leaving Virginia, the brand has been busy expanding into other cities. Jaleo Chicago opened in July. According to TFG, a delayed opening for a Jaleo in Dubai — the tapas bar’s first location outside the United States — is set for 2022. Jaleo also maintains properties in Las Vegas and Disney Springs, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. In 2019, Washington Post critic Tom Sietsema inducted Jaleo into his D.C. restaurant hall of fame, pointing prospective customers toward the proprietary chorizo with olive oil mashed potatoes and a salad of apple, fennel, and manchego cheese.

After Amazon announced in November 2018 that it would plant its second U.S. headquarters in Northern Virginia, real estate speculation has spiked. The so-called “Amazon Effect” has already sparked a restaurant revival in Arlington. The Freshman, an all-day cafe with all the trappings of a trendy modern restaurant, planted its flag in Crystal City in April. The Westpost development, formerly known as Pentagon Row, continues to add a wave of well-known D.C.-area chefs at places like Mattie and Eddie’s Irish pub, American-Chinese takeout spot Lucky Danger, and incoming Aslin Beer Co. project Nighthawk Pizza.

As Jaleo prepares for its final week in Crystal City, Andrés has landed on the Spanish island of La Palma to help provide disaster relief with World Central Kitchen following a volcanic eruption.

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