Alexandria Planning Commission recommended approval Tuesday on plans to transform the vacant Torpedo Factory Food Pavilion into a single, 450-seat restaurant.
Blackwall Hitch, named after a nautical knot, plans to offer a variation of New American Cuisine with locally sourced ingredients. A wide selection of craft beers, international wines and specialty cocktails will be offered and there are plans for live music.
Lead partner Larry Ray, a veteran of restaurant and health club ventures in Annapolis, Md., plans to open the first Blackwall Hitch restaurant in Maryland’s capital in January.
Ray and his partners are proposing a multi-million dollar overhaul of the food pavilion, placing the opening date of the Alexandria restaurant to summer or fall 2014.
“This has been a lot of work getting some decent to happen here,” Commissioner Nate Macek said. “The food court was failing before plug was pulled almost exactly two years ago. … I think it’s important to move forward with this. It’s solved the problem of two-year vacancy.”
As part of the proposal, the interior will be separated into several different dining areas, including a raw bar and chef demonstration area. An interior bar will open into an exterior patio, and there are plans to utilize the gazebo in some way.
The restaurant proposes 450 total seats, including 255 indoor seats, 135 rear deck outdoor seats and 60 seats in a solarium.
Ray and his partners have yet to decide if the solarium will be renovated with retractable windows or removed completely. Any renovations would be subject to the Old and Historic Alexandria District Board of Review.
The restaurant will also provide public restrooms for the entire city marina, something considered a great need along with waterfront—especially when the restrooms at the Torpedo Factory Art Center close after business hours.
The proposal will go before Alexandria City Council on Dec. 14.