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What does Del Ray want to know about the new restaurant opening in the former FireFlies location?
Charlie’s on the Avenue will stock upward of 15 highchairs. That, and nothing will cost over $22.
Live Oak’s Justus Frank, chef and owner, and his business partner Jeremy Barber were looking to open a second restaurant. At the same time, Marylisa and Dan Lichens, the owners of FireFlies for 15 years, were looking to retire.
After running a more upscale Del Ray restaurant since August 2016, Frank says he wants to capture “the other side of the market that we’re not getting at Live Oak.”
Charlie’s will feature a pan-American menu: Cuban sandwiches, burgers, pulled pork, brisket, roast chicken, fried chicken and a smoked rack of ribs, which claims the top of the menu pricing. The fried chicken will probably be the only carry-over from the Southern-themed Live Oak.
Though Frank stresses Charlie’s will be the “epitome of family-friendly,” this remains a chef-driven enterprise with a locally sourced raw bar (and oyster happy hour), housemade German-style pretzels and farm-to-table salads.
Working with Christopher Tate, who runs Del Ray Farms at the back of the Salvation Army off Mount Vernon Avenue, Frank will use his lettuces for a variety of salads, including a build-your-own option at lunchtime. The DIY salads (starting at $8) include greens, proteins (chicken, salmon, pulled pork) and toppings (hard-boiled eggs, cheese, black beans), plus there will be rotating composed salads featuring the season’s produce.
Charlie’s will be open every day for lunch (carry-out friendly) and dinner, with brunch an option in the future. Also on the wish list: a cold case for grab-and-go meals (growlers and six-packs will be available immediately), weekday breakfast and more outdoor seating. Frank hopes to replace the notoriously dark-tinted windows with ones that could open accordion-style for an indoor-outdoor porch. Other updates include decreasing the kitchen size—yes, even the contractor said this is the first time he ever had a chef request a smaller kitchen and a bigger dining room—and adding a new bar.
The drink program is still in development, though at least some of the draft lines will deliver wine and cocktails. An extended happy hour, from 3-8 p.m., will feature $3 rails, $4 draft beers and $5 draft cocktails. Desserts are classic and kid-friendly: milkshakes (chocolate peanut butter and blueberry buckle), a banana split, root beer float and pies. There will also be a kids menu at $6 for an entree (cheeseburger, chicken tenders, fish and chips, corn dogs), side and drink.
Joel Rojas, from the Live Oak family, will run the kitchen at Charlie’s, and some Live Oak staff will fill the daytime hours.
Frank hopes for an April opening of Charlie’s, named after the many family connections of that moniker: Frank’s father-in-law and business investor, and Barber’s grandfather and daughter. And it’s Barber’s daughter we can thank for the corn dogs on the menu. Del Ray is a kid’s world, after all.
Charlie’s on the Avenue
1501 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria