News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, February 27, 2023

Flashback Monday: When Reston Fought a Fast Food Chain

We've written before about how groundbreaking Reston was in Virginia's segregated suburbs, as the first community that openly welcomed black residents. The Black community was active and empowered as seen by the photo above, where the child-free Children's Fountain in Lake Anne Plaza was reworked during a community celebration sometime in the late 60s or early 70s, as our BFFs at the Reston Museum pointed out earlier in the month.  

But we were this years old, as the kids might have said as recently as last year on their TikToks, or whatever, when we learned that the Reston community fought off a chain restaurant with an offensive name back in the 1970s. (Because we are the sensitive Alan Alda types, we won't mention the chain by name, though you can read plenty about its history here.)

Give us some good blockquote, BFFs at the Washington Post:

A national chain's attempt to bring its... restaurants to metropolitan Washington has created a furor in Reston, where one of the franchises is scheduled to be built.

The Reston Community Association's board, in an 11-to-1 vote, said. "We want to express our outrage to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors that a national restaurant franchise with the name and decor... could be welcome in Fairfax County. It is certainly not welcome in Reston."

Supervisor Martha V. Pennino (D-Centreville) said she also opposes the restaurant's name for its "racial insensitivity" and urged the chain to change it. 

And from another "news paper" article:

Ernest V. Yancey, a member of the Reston Community Association board of directors said he foresees a blacklash from Reston residents if the name stays on the restaurant.

"We are trying to build a town that welcomes all people", said Joanne Brownsword, president of the RCA. "We don't want a name (on a Reston restaurant) that insults one segment of the population."

The county Human Rights Commission will "try to negotiate a fair agreement [with] "officials on the name of the restuarant, according to Patricia Horton, executive director of the Fairfax Human Rights Commission. Construction is scheduled to start next week on the restaurant and it is to open in early May.

Apparently the owners agreed to change the name to Jolly Tiger, but then switched it back when they planned to open a second location in Fairfax (which we vaguely remember from our dissolute, non-planned community youth).  The Internets have a fuzzy memory about some things (and we're sure our search history is going to reward us with some... interesting ads for our attempts to learn more), so it's not clear how long the restaurant stayed open, or when it joined the ranks of Burger Chef, Jack in the Box, and, of course, the other midscale chain eatery that is no longer with us that we can't bring ourselves to mention by name. But it's another chapter in Reston's history as an outlier, as it was one of just a dozen communities across the country that fought the chain during its not-so-storied history, the end.

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