Friendly neighborhood chef Will Artley is opening a new restaurant in Del Ray, but you better get a seat quickly because the doors won’t be open long.
In the next few weeks, the former maestro at will open a pop-up restaurant at an undisclosed location. Artley will serve his special brand of contemporary American cuisine for seven days and then—poof!—the restaurant will disappear.
“It’ll be there for a week and then it’s gone,” he said. “The space is going to be another restaurant down the road. These people already have a plan, so we can just go in and have a great vibe and good food. … I get to cook for my community again.”
Artley is downright giddy over the opportunity. He even admitted losing sleep going over the details in his head—everything from the menu to the music selection. He said no one in Alexandria has attempted the pop-up concept before.
On Sunday evening, Artley hinted at the project on his Twitter and Facebook pages and quickly received a wave of text messages and emails from friends in the business all over the region that wanted in on the fun. Longtime customers also sent messages saying they missed his cooking and were committed to making it out for a night or three.
Details remain loose, but Artley shared the following: The restaurant space has 30 seats that will be filled almost exclusively by reservation. Dinner will be the only meal served. The menu will be small, handwritten and change daily. Offerings will be a combination of Artley’s personal "classics"—including some handmade pastas—as well as "some new stuff to get people excited." He hopes to offer fresh, local ingredients as much as possible.
As for drinks, Artley has recruited friends to craft new cocktails just for the spot's limited run. He wants to keep the wine simple—just three or four selections. will be the only beer offered.
Artley is eyeing a potential Monday-to-Sunday run with a big bash on the final night.
"The main goal is not about making money or PR," Artley said. "It's about making a little jolt in Del Ray and to have fun, cook good food and make people happy."
Since parting ways with Evening Star Cafe in October, Artley has been busy working as a restaurant consultant through his Restaurant SAGE venture. He fine-tuned some of the offerings at right before it opened. He continues to spend a lot of his time there. He also recently spent two weeks working as a private chef in the Bahamas.
"I have another gig lined up to train staff on fresh pasta and how to maintain it," he said.
Artley said he is interviewing for chef jobs at various places. He also has thoughts of opening his own permanent restaurant, with eyes on the "outskirts of Del Ray." He has looked at a couple different spaces in Alexandria but hasn’t found a spot that feels right.
"I'm looking for the perfect fit," he said. "I'm exercising every option. … It has to be a no-brainer."