Last week it was Answer Man’s turn to ask a question. It wasn’t his question, actually. It was from Joseph Price of the District, who couldn’t remember the name of a distinctive Seven Corners restaurant he used to visit in the 1980s. It was oddly situated in a residential neighborhood, Joseph wrote, and had an English theme, with a black London taxicab positioned outside the door.
Many people came forward with the answer. Rich Luttrell was the first. Rich grew up in the Arlington/Annandale area and remembers going to the restaurant, which was called the Country Squire.
“I took at least one high school gal for dinner there before the big dance in the mid ’70s and actually had a wedding reception there in September 1987,” Rich wrote. “Really cool property that was once a farm. ... I went by a few years ago. It was sadly gone, with some townhouses now on the site.”
The Country Squire was opened in 1957 by Leonard and Doris Johnson. Before starting the Country Squire, the couple operated a delicatessen in Seven Corners and a nightclub in Northwest Washington called the Mayfair: Cafe of All Nations.
The restaurant was in an old farmhouse. Diane Thompson of McLean held her wedding reception there on Nov. 28, 1987. “It was a local favorite nestled in the woods on what was called Perkins Hill,” Diane wrote. “The taxicab was only one feature of the place; mostly what I remember was the theme of roosters used throughout. Roosters were on the dinnerware, in pictures, on mantels (fireplaces were in nearly every room), and in stained glass windows.”
Ed Bower of Falls Church used to go. “It was a classy place,” he wrote, “a small estate whose large residence had been expanded into a restaurant with a private parking lot, and a great venue for large gatherings.”
While the food — steak, seafood — didn’t garner raves from Post critics, it had a loyal clientele. Downstairs there was often music. Joe Green’s father managed the nearby Lord & Taylor store for more than 20 years. “We spent many nights at the Country Squire restaurant on Patrick Henry Drive behind the store,” Joe wrote. The Lord & Taylor is now a Sears.
Centreville’s Nancy M. Sessions remembers the restaurant’s multiple fireplaces. She used to go there with her ex-husband on their anniversary — before he was her ex-husband.
Besides anniversary dinners and wedding receptions, the Country Squire was the setting for fashion shows, civic group luncheons and high school reunions. The oddest reference Answer Man found to the place in The Post archives was from 1973. Shortly after 10 p.m. on April 4 that year, a gang of four armed men herded 26 diners and the restaurant’s nine employees into a small dining room and ordered them to empty their pockets. The men got away with $1,700. They were later caught. The ringleader turned out to be the head of a security guard agency.
North Arlington’s Steve Ripley has more than just memories of the Country Squire. He ate there just before its closing and snapped up some of the tableware they were selling. A plate in his possession features the iconic rooster. Other accouterments from the restaurant were reportedly incorporated into a house off Hunter Drive.
Then there’s Bob Stacy’s souvenir. Bob used to go there as a boy, taken on special occasions by his parents when he lived in Annandale. “In fact, when the place was torn down around 1991 to put up 20 new townhomes, I was one of the original buyers and still live there, in the Hills of Barcroft community off Patrick Henry Drive,” Bob wrote.
When construction on the townhouses began, Bob’s mother and brother noticed the restaurant’s sign was still up: “COUNTRY SQUIRE” in big block letters. Bob asked whether he could have it. “Well, the original sign is still hanging in my garage to this day,” Bob wrote.
Answer Man’s readers did such a good job at doing his job that he’s posing another question, this one from Susan Walker, who writes: “My husband and I live in Northwest D.C. on Connecticut Avenue, pretty high up, so we can see way out to the southeast. Many nights, our bedroom walls are flooded with very bright light from two huge klieg lights down in SE (or perhaps out of the city all together). Do you know what these are? What their purpose is? And why they are sometimes on, sometimes off?”
Susan told Answer Man that the lights seem to be random — on some nights, off others, with as much as a month between illuminations. Can anyone shed light on the lights?
Send your questions about the Washington area to firstname.lastname@example.org.