By Charlotte Rodina, Contributing Writer
Located in a newly updated, nearly 140-year-old historic church, Malones of Manassas offers a blend of traditional and modern in a setting that embraces both old and new.
Abstract modern artwork embellishes the dining room walls of this new eatery on the corner of Main and Church Street in the heart of Old Town Manassas—a contrast to the century-old spruce pilings interspersed throughout the room.
Owner Kevin Malone, a native of Manassas, likes the mingling. “I’ve always loved this building,” he said of the brownstone church adorned with stained glass and cast iron, giving it a slightly gothic feel from the outside. However, the inside of the newly opened restaurant, which ﬁrst welcomed customers on Feb. 1, has been freshly remodeled.
Malone remembers when the building, built in 1875 as the Manassas Presbyterian Church, was a weekly meeting place for his Boy Scout troop. In 1977, church members moved to a new building constructed to accommodate the growing congregation.
Since then, the old church has housed several restaurants, changing ownership a number of times over the years. Malone said his predecessors were unsuccessful because of a lack of investment into interior remodeling. So as soon as he bought the place, he began redesigning the inside.
Malone is no stranger to remodeling restaurants, or operating an eatery. He left Manassas for a career that spans 30 years in the food industry and worked his way up from bartending and managing to become a regional manager whose job was remodeling and improving underperforming Ruby Tuesday restaurants around the country. After moving back to Manassas, he decided to open his own restaurant.
Major changes to the building’s interior include an updated bar area with a granite counter, remodeled bathrooms and repainted walls and ceilings as well as updates to the lighting and landscape. While the décor is more modern, including hanging lights with soft gold fabric and green-and-gold pillows on bench seats, the historic feel of the old church has been preserved. An intricately carved headboard from an antique bedframe adorns the area above the three-sided bar, and the metal spiral staircase that leads upstairs gives the room an Old-World feel.
The restaurant’s lower level, open for ﬁne dining at dinner, includes several tables draped with white and taupe tablecloths under crystal glasses and mirrored vases. The room seats 60 people. This summer the upper ﬂoor will also be open, for lunch, dinner and late-night drinks, with a freshly-installed four-sided bar in the room’s center and a stage in the back for live entertainment, Malone said.
Menu Blends Modern Southern and Old World
The subtle blend of modern and traditional extends to Malones’ food. The menu, split into three straight-forward sections of starters, salads and entrees, includes a varied selection that lists Southern modern American dishes alongside sophisticated fare that incorporates tastes of Spanish, French and Italian cuisine. Under appetizers and on the bar menu, for example, Southern- inspired Shrimp n’ Grits can be found next to the popular French dish, Mussels Poulette, in a garlic white wine cream sauce with grilled baguettes.
Chef Jamie Gulden commands the kitchen and menu. “Our goal is to exceed expectations,” said Gulden, a former student of the renowned French Master Chef Alain Lecompte, who opened and operates the highly-rated classical French restaurant Chez Max in Richmond. A Richmond native, Gulden was the executive chef at
Randolph-Macon College in Ashland and more recently at the National Marine Corps Museum in Quantico. He was also the chef de cuisine at the Iron Horse, an award-winning Ashland restaurant with Southern modern American fare.
Following Malones’ menu starters are a selection of ﬁve salads, including the arugula and apple salad, which comes with prosciutto-wrapped dates, caramelized walnuts and manchego cheese. Entrees include pork, beef, chicken and seafood. The pan- seared scallops with sauce bonnefoy (a traditional French sauce), which is served with house grits, sautéed spinach and crispy garlic chips, is the top-selling dinner choice, Gulden said. “We sell a lot of scallops,” he added, noting that seafood is the main attraction at Malones.
Some menu items will change seasonally. Gulden plans to add an heirloom tomato caprese salad to the menu this summer.
Diners can go French with dessert by ordering an apple gallette or crème brulee. Southern-style bourbon bread pudding and molten chocolate cake are also available. Gulden makes the desserts as well as the main fare.
There is full bar service as well, and lining a storage rack on the back wall in the cozy, softly lit dining room, domestic and imported wines are available by the glass or bottle.
The fare has expanded. In April, the restaurant began serving brunch on Sundays. The menu includes pancakes, eggs, bacon, omelets and Eggs Benedict. Gulden described the breakfast fare as traditional, but with a unique and surprising twist.
Patrons Fill Malones
Although Malones has limited advertisement, the restaurant has had a waiting list every weekend since opening night and is never empty on weekdays, Malone said. Online reviews on tripadvisor® are also positive. “This is a must-go for dining out in Manassas…
The food was fantastic and the service superb,” wrote one patron. “Appetizer, main course and dessert were all perfect, and the excellent service made everything taste just that much better,” another noted.
Support from Malone’s family, friends and neighbors gives his restaurant a comforting and welcoming vibe, said the owner, who described operating his establishment as similar to attending a high school reunion. He is constantly running into old friends, Malone said. He also enjoys seeing new faces each night. Being near family and friends, old and new, is the best part of his new business, he said: “I couldn’t ask for more.” Malone said he hopes the restaurant becomes a treasure of Manassas.
Malones is located at 9329 Main Street in Manassas. Visit www.malonesofmanassas.com for restaurant hours and more information.
Charlotte Rodina is a student at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg and has written for her school newspaper and website. When not attending college, she lives with her family in Manassas. She can be emailed at [email protected].