El Zunzal Building Will be Demolished, Replaced by Jewelry Store

July 2, 2011 by Stephen Siegel · 18 Comments 



Falls Church Times Staff

July 2, 2011

It was for sale for quite some time, but the building housing the El Zunzal Restaurant at 917 W. Broad has finally been sold, meaning the Mexican and Salvadoran eatery’s days are numbered.

The restaurant is slated to close when demolition permits for the building are issued and the demolition is scheduled; plans have been submitted and are undergoing review by city officials now.

The closure will be a loss for Northern Virginia’s Latino community, which gathered there from around the region to socialize and watch international soccer on the restaurant’s televisions.

But it also means a crime magnet will disappear. The restaurant and its parking lot were the scene of at least 11 crimes and the accompanying police response since March 8, police reports show. The crimes ranged from public drunkenness and urination to possession of cocaine, driving while intoxicated, and assault and battery, among others.

The new use for the building will be at least in part as a jewelry store; it was purchased by Dominion Jewelers, a Falls Church City family business currently housed right next door at 107 Rowell Ct., in the Old Brick House Square development.

Beyond that, the plans are still in flux. Although the company has submitted plans to the city to demolish the building, many questions remain unanswered, said Rachelle Barimany, whose father opened the business many years ago.

Ms. Barimany said the tentative plans call for the building to be torn down to the foundation, which will be saved, followed by the construction of a new two-story building that keeps the existing footprint.

“We’re most likely going down to the foundation and building up from there. There’s not much there to work with,” she said. “The footprint is a good footprint. It’ll serve us well.”

Also undetermined is whether Dominion will take one floor or both of the new building. Another option is to lease out the 2nd floor to another business, which will be possible because the site contains ample parking, unlike some other Broad Street parcels.

“We want to see good things — bring better things — to the city,” Ms. Barimany said. “We’ve all grown up here.”

To that end, the family plans to build something that fits in architecturally with the existing streetscape. They plan to use brick to make it blend in with the adjacent Rowell Court properties, which have a Colonial Virginia look to them that’s reminiscent of Old Town Alexandria.

Dominion’s existing storefront is for sale or for lease, Ms. Barimany said. The sale price of the building, which is part of a set of commercial condos, is $775,000.

Could a restaurant occupy the 2nd floor while the jewelry business operates on the first? If it doesn’t present any city code issues, Ms. Barimany likes the idea, in part because of the synergy of the jewelry business, which closes at 5 pm, and a restaurant, which would be busiest later in the evening.

Upscale, sit-down restaurants have been seeking space in the City, but have been stymied by storefronts that are too small or that lack adequate parking, or both.

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