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Come to the Fair! Society Fair Doors Stay Open

The shelves are loaded with fabulous foodie nectar. (Photo: Society Fair)

By Kelly MacConomy

Good news in Alexandria! Thanks to the kindness of the landlord and generosity of neighbors, loyal patrons, and even perfect strangers seeing the GoFundMe page online, the Society Fair market and restaurant in Old Town will be able to keep the stoves running and the doors wide open — for now.

Since 2012 Society Fair at 277 South Washington Street has delighted Alexandria locals and visitors by serving unique specialty foods in the market adjacent to the Café, which is known for its popular limited-seating Demo Kitchen and Friday Date Night Bags; dinners to go for two with dessert and wine included for only $49.

Touted as a “boutique emporium of epicurean delight”, where everything they do is “devoted to food,” Society Fair has always been an adventurous culinary venture. Ever reinventing the way to dine fine and fun, coming to the Fair offered something divertingly delicious for all.

Last night owner Nadine Brown posted an update regarding the status of business: “Good evening fair friends. Sincere thank you to each and every one of you. Your generosity leaves us speechless. Your kind words give us hope. Because of all of you and a generous landlord we will NOT be closing after service tomorrow. We have many changes coming and hope to be able to provide cake and gumbo for years to come.”

The Society Fair cakes are iconic for size and flavor. (Photo: Society Fair)

The restaurant business is never a cake walk. The sister Society Fair Market, which shared space with the TNT rock n’ roll bar in the Penrose section of Arlington, closed in 2014. Starbucks made an offer they couldn’t refuse.

Nadine Brown (pictured) and husband Dan Fisher are capturing the community’s love and rallying hard to keep their fabulous food emporium open. (Photo: Society Fair)

At one time Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s restaurant group Eat Good Food owned and operated both Society Fair, the TNT Bar (named one of the best new bars in the southeast by Food and Wine Magazine at the time it closed), the stylish PX speakeasy above Eamonns A Dublin Chipper, The Majestic, Virtue Feed and Grain, as well as the celebrated five-star favorite Restaurant Eve. Eve regrettably closed last June.

The Armstrongs sold Society Fair to Eve chef Dan Fisher and his wife, sommelier Nadine Brown, in late 2017. It was a daunting task for the husband and wife team to rebuild the staffing it would take to make a go of it. Through their labors of love the mile-high coconut cake, multi-course Demo Kitchen dinners at the chef’s counter, and grab-n-go epicurean fare carried on.

An example of the famous DATE NIGHT bags is this spinach and ricotta stuffed shells. Date Night bags are available Fridays after 4pm for pickup. (Photo: Society Fair)

Then came the government shutdown and the arctic blast — which went on seemingly everlasting for over a month. This past Saturday, February 2, Society Fair established a Go Fund Me campaign hoping to raise $50,000 by Wednesday, February 6. Team Save the Big Ass Choc Cake was launched with over 130 people participating in the fundraising drive in four days.

Last night Nadine Brown was pleased to announce that while they had not reached their original one-week goal they had enough funds to be able to continue operating while they regroup management, lowering the Go Fund Me goal to $30,000. As of today Society Fair has raised $7,075 including a single $200 contribution made today.

Hoping if they rebuild it, people will come, Dan Fisher and Nadine Brown invested heart and soul into maintaining the caliber of notable fine cuisine and epicurean specialty launched by the Armstrongs six years ago. One local Go Funder and Society Fair fan wrote: “My wife and I love Society Fair and visit nearly every weekend for breakfast, great coffee, and to pick up one or two of their wonderful pre-cooked dinners for a treat during the week. We would hate to see the closure of such a neighborhood gem.”

Fresh breads and cakes are rolling out of the ovens at 4 am daily along with a bevy of savory takeaway dishes for busy Alexandrians–check their cold cases! (Photo: Mary Wadland)

Another donor who is not from Alexandria wished Society Fair a lot of luck: “I don’t even live anywhere on the east coast but I support small businesses. Good luck from one small business owner to another!”

From all of us at this small business to all at Society Fair, we are wishing you the very best luck, with fingers crossed and dreams of big-ass chocolate cake success for many more years to come!

Come to the Fair!
Society Fair!
Come for the convenience.
Stay for the culinary delights: Demo Dinners, Wine-pairing repasts, Friday Date-Night Bags, Grab-n-Go, Family Night Dinner with games.
Breakfast, lunch and so much more!

Kelly MacConomy

Kelly MacConomy is the Arts Editor for The Zebra Press.

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