Confidential Restonian Operative "Joel" shared this photo of what's left of El Manatial, which departed the Tall Oaks
Stucco Wasteland Shopping Center in recent weeks. One of the few eateries not named the Macaroni Grill to earn a coveted Restonian Top Pick For Chowing Down(tm), the owners are relocating -- and it hurts our fingers just to type this -- to Herndon, where they will reopen in what used to be the Russia House as Europa Restaurant. Those flowering bushes in the foreground may still be blooming, but for Tall Oaks, it's now late December.
It was just three years ago that the restaurant was seeking to expand in its current spot, with an awning and outdoor seating that looked a little like a Paris streetscape. With the current state of Tall Oaks more like Paris, Texas, it's clear they made the right move.
At this point, the only thing more surprising than the vast wasteland of Tall Oaks is that some businesses are still operational there. Mama Wok and Pho Reston 75, both also excellent and RTPFCDs(tm), plus a dry cleaner, a nail place, and... we dunno, maybe a
CIA safe house a pizza joint or two? And we won't speak of the fabled "lower level," except to say there's no truth to the rumor that anyone who walks down the steps disappears for 20 years, only to return with a long beard and rambling incoherently about land use planning.
Our BFFs at Reston Now say that the center's owners are still seeking new tenants, or at least that they are still listing commercial space at Tall Oaks on the web. Of course, if slapping something up on the web was the sign of a viable business, we'd be the Huffington Post.
But we digress. We checked the website, and it looks like the listing hasn't been updated since 2011. The accompanying brochure lists a couple of businesses that have since gone off to the Great Strip Mall in the Sky. (When exactly did Curves close again?)
Several commenters at Reston Now also claim that their efforts to lease space at Tall Oaks were rebuffed. When you combine that with master planning efforts to rethink the village centers and Bob Simon's comment that we might not need all of them anymore, more and more Tall Oaks is looking ripe for some sweeeeeet bollardy redevelopment.
But who knows? If that's the plan, the owners aren't talking. In the meantime, we'll prepare for a long winter by thinking wistfully about the days you could just pop into Tall Oaks and pick up some sexist bread, the end.