How many stores do you know that have jumbo lump crab meat in the fish case -- and live bait in a fish tank? Australian chardonnay in the front of the store and pulled pork in the back? That cater to coffee-toting commuters in BMWs and hard-working construction crews on their lunch break?
Sit on the front porch of Partlow's Market and you will find yourself less at a crossroad between new and old Ashburn and more on a merry-go-round of activity. Located right next to Virginia's Washington & Old Dominion bike trail (Mile Marker 27), it attracts physically fit bikers, joggers and skaters in search of a cold drink. As the construction of new homes continues to surge in the area, it is a magnet for both hungry home builders and homeowners, one group in search of a big fat deli sandwich, the other for a whole red snapper or a juicy porterhouse.
An institution on Ashburn Road for more than 60 years, the store was bought earlier this year by Greg Preast, the former director of operations and butcher at Wagshal's Market in the District. Preast, who lives with his family nearby, understands the role that the store plays in the life of Ashburn, so he kept many of the previous products and amenities. But he also has added some features of his own, notably the fish and meat counters (with prime rib that tempts even the cholesterol conscious) and the deli counter with Boars Head meats. He caters to the community with party platters of ribs and pulled pork or sandwich trays and has recently added store-baked breads and hand-dipped ice creams.
When he's not on his 16-hour-a-day schedule running the store, he's restoring the wide-plank wood floors and scouring other country markets for an authentic produce case. Know of any?
-- Jeanne McManus