After more than 20 years at the center of social activity in Old Town Manassas, City Tavern will close and move to a new location early next year, the restaurant’s owners said in an interview Tuesday.
The restaurant will move into a building at 9550 Center St. formerly occupied by KC’s Restaurant, said Nick Veltsistas, who owns City Tavern with his brothers, Tim and Pete. The decision to move was prompted by a substantial rent increase that the business faced when its 20-year lease expired in October, the brothers said.
The restaurant also needed some costly improvements, Pete Veltsistas said. Rather than invest $300,000 to $400,000 to bring the current location up to date, the brothers decided to buy the building at the new location and move the restaurant there, he said.
“So for us it is a good move to buy our own building and spend the money there,” he said.
Dharmesh Shingala, co-owner of the property that includes the restaurant and the adjacent Olde Towne Inn, said that the Veltsistas brothers had gotten favorable terms in the 20-year lease they signed with a previous property owner.
Shingala said that he and his wife, who co-owns the property, had been open to working out a new rental agreement at market rates with the Veltsistas brothers but that the brothers decided instead to invest in the building they purchased. He said that he will be seeking another restaurant to move into the space after it is renovated.
“Today we had [about] half a dozen inquiries, and we didn’t even hire a broker yet,” Shingala said.
Although City Tavern will no longer be in Old Town Manassas, the brothers think it will be well situated for foot traffic.
“The courthouse is right next door, in walking distance,” Nick Veltsistas said. “All Saints Catholic Church is right next door; new townhouses [are] across the street. So we’re very excited about that.”
He said it was important to the brothers to keep the business within the city because local residents have been good to them.
City Tavern also does a steady business of banquets and special events, including wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners, the brothers said. Civic groups such as the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs meet weekly in the banquet room.
The new restaurant will include a banquet room that can accommodate 175 people, Nick Veltsistas said.
“Hopefully, all of our customers here will follow us,” Pete Veltsistas said.
Several customers said they intended to give the restaurant a try in its new location.
“It’s a little inconvenient, but not that much,” said Don Quick of Manassas. “It’s no further from my place than this is.”
Joanne Wunderly, president of the Manassas Old Town Business Association, said she had mixed emotions about the owners’ plans to move the restaurant.
“I’m happy for them . . . but I’m sad for us and Old Town because I really think it was the go-to place,” Wunderly said. “It was a place we recommended a lot, for somebody who wants a good, quick lunch for a reasonable price. I’m sorry to see it go.
“It’s the place where the locals all go,” Wunderly added. “Everybody knows everybody, and it is part of the fabric of the community.”