Foodie Newz

The Janowskys Throw in Towel on La Bergerie Old Town Location

Restaurateurs Margaret and Laurent Janowsky are forced to permanently close the 40-year old, award-winning La Bergerie Restaurant after legal battles drain resources. (Photo by Harry Merritt/The Zebra Press)

La Bergerie Announces Inability to Proceed with Relocation

ALEXANDRIA, VA–Laurent and Margaret Ticer Janowsky announced they no longer have the financial resources necessary to complete their envisioned fine dining restaurant and five-room inn at 329 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 because of the prolonged lawsuit against the City of Alexandria by 23 residents.

The City of Alexandria won the lawsuit in Circuit Court and the Virginia Supreme Court twice declined to hear an appeal of the decision, but the three and half years it took to conclude the case took a significant financial toll on the Janowskys. Not only have they lost a personal investment of over $400,000 in these legal difficulties, they lost investors who, over time, put their money elsewhere.

The new location for the critically acclaimed La Bergerie Restaurant at 329 N. Washington was unanimously approved by Alexandria’s City Council in 2014, but 23 local residents fought the permit decision, financially crippling the restaurant’s owners as they continued to defend the Council’s decision over the last four years. (File photo)

In July 2014, the Janowskys signed a contract to move their award-winning fine dining French restaurant, La Bergerie, to a fully-restored four-story Federal-style historic building at 329 N. Washington Street. In addition to indoor and outdoor dining, the Janowskys planned to run a five-room inn in the well-appointed rooms upstairs. In October 2014, the Janowskys received unanimous approval of their proposed business plans from both the city’s Planning Commission and the Alexandria City Council.

In November 2014, 23 individuals who own homes as far as five blocks away from 329 N. Washington Street, joined together to sue the City for their approvals. Their suit was handled by Williams & Connolly, where another neighbor, John Kester, who had demanded the City Council recuse themselves from voting on the project due to their “relationships” with Margaret’s mother (former Mayor and State Senator Patsy Ticer), is Senior Counsel.

As the case dragged on, ultimately the La Bergerie lease at Crilley Warehouse expired and, after 40 years in Old Town, the restaurant closed on December 24, 2016.

Laurent stated that he is “very disappointed not to be able to bring his unique, destination, fine-dining experience to Old Town. We were also looking forward to offering the only hotel rooms in an historic, Federal-period property in Alexandria.” He also noted how supportive their customers have been throughout this ordeal and cannot thank them enough.

Margaret added, “We find it extremely unsettling that a few residents can destroy a reputable 40-year-old local business just by filing a lawsuit, which we believe they had no expectation of winning. We believe it was their intent all along to do just what has happened, make us spend so much money in the lawsuit and drag it out over so many years, that we, in effect, have been bankrupted by it. It’s a very sad day for local, small businesses in Old Town, Alexandria.”

The Janowskys also own the popular neighborhood restaurant, Del Ray Café, at 205 E. Howell Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301, in the heart of Del Ray. Laurent and Margaret look forward to greeting their long-time La Bergerie guests at Del Ray Café which has recently added La Bergerie’s famed dessert soufflés and Dover Sole to its menu.


Mary Wadland

Mary Wadland is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of The Zebra Press, founded by her in 2010. Originally from Delray Beach, Florida, Mary is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Hollins College in Roanoke, VA and has lived and worked in the Alexandria publishing community since 1987.

Related Articles

Back to top button