News and notes from Reston (tm).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Gapocalypse Now: Is Reston's Treasured Midscale Chain Retail Being Driven Out By Slightly More Upscale Midscale Chain Retail?

For lovers of midscale chain Americana and planned communities -- but only when they are combined together in a you-got-your-Macaroni Grill-in-my-fanciful-concrete-bollard! sort of way -- it's been a tough couple of months here in Reston.

Following the abrupt closure of the Macaroni Grill and its corporate carb-dispensing sibling Chilis within weeks of each other, our BFFs at Reston Now inform us that Gap and Gap Kids will be leaving Reston Town Center before the end of the month. According to the article, the store's lease was not renewed by Boston Properties, the owner of all things RTC, meaning that the last sweater will be compulsively refolded by staff in the next week or so.

Being "web loggers" ever in search of the next HOT TAKE, we've noticed that when midscale chain purveyors leave RTC, they're often replaced by slightly more upscale midscale chain purveyors. Consider Uno's -- the midscale chain product of America's most midscale big city, Chicago. They were given the heave-ho for twee comfort food emporium Ted's Bulletin -- which, as people pointed out at the time, was a trade-off between an affordable place frequented by teenagers and pricey homemade pop tarts frequented by... people who can afford pricey homemade pop tarts. And Eddie Bauer, itself on the nice side of midscale, has been replaced by some... we dunno.. fancy perfume place? And this isn't even getting into all the cupcakeries, saladries, etc., etc. that have flocked to RTC.

It gets worse. We're old enough to remember when RTC was home to a -- wait for it -- Ruby Tuesday's, like some dying shopping mall in an aging Rust Belt exurb. Quel horreur! We'll just sit here waiving the smelling salts under our notes and dreaming of our promised chocolate bar.

It's all part of a worrisome trend that is making us wonder where we'll be able to park our Ford Focus (and lest we forget, RTC has hinted that we may have to pay for parking at some point in the future). And we can only assume that midscale Macaroni Grill will soon be replaced by the slightly more upscale midscale Cheesecake Factory (although the fact that they sell advertising in their menus keeps them squarely in Ford Focus territory).

Of course, the CVS that's now open in RTC is the counterfactual to this HOT TAKE theory. But we haven't been; maybe they only sell spritzers and artisanal root beer instead of sodas. And generics? Climb into the Focus and drive to a less pricey Zip code, the end.


  1. RTC is turning into an odd tourist attraction. Whenever my friends and relatives from out-of-state come to visit, they always clamor to go to RTC. They think it's 'really nice'. They still talk about breakfast at Ted's Bulletin and the ice rink. Not a peep about the Smithsonian museums.

    1. That's a really sad commentary about the state of the Smithsonian. Or your friends ;)

    2. True, they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed. But, I have to give them points for even venturing out of their country comfort zone.

    3. Whenever I say I live in Reston, some clueless person's eyes light up (especially if they are under 30) as they proclaim, "Oh, I loooooooooove Reston Town Center."

      Well, that makes one of us, Bub. Get off my lawn.

  2. Actually, CVS may not be a counterfactual in any meaningful way. As a chain, it is maybe the MOST expensive pharmacy for prescriptions in the country. That may not make it upscale, but it's certainly up-priced.

    Hmmmm. Wonder if the same is happening with street drugs in RTC? Do they only sell "designer" drugs, not pot, crack, and the like?

  3. I would dine at a Cheesecake Factory in RTC but only if Penny (Kaley Cuoco) came with my dessert.

  4. "Consider Uno's -- the midscale chain product of America's most midscale big city, Chicago." It's funny because it's true!

  5. bRestonplant. The other sweater-meat. Fake, fabulous. But hardly . . . natural. Where the hell IS Dranesville, anyway?

  6. I would like to know what Dranesville is too.

  7. Just one more reason to avoid the Abomination on the W&OD aka RTC.


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