Leesburg’s Shoes steps upstairs into the 1930s
The coffee shop, which frequent visitors call Shoes for short, is expanding its business to the second floor. The long talked-about move is finally becoming reality.
“We're doing a lot of fun things,” said Curtis Allred, Shoes operating partner. “We are expanding our indoor seating capacity so we have more year-round seating … A lot of the fun detail … has gone into building that room up there that is pretty remarkable and gives a pretty unique and separate dining experience than down here or out back.”
The second floor is set to open to the public in the first week of October. With just weeks left to prepare, it leaves patrons wondering what they'll find beyond the barely noticeable black door that leads upstairs.
The addition is being prepared as a throwback to a 1930s speakeasy. And it's well on its way. Intense attention is being put into the detail, everything from paint color to door hinges. For the sake of authenticity, Shoes won't be using anything that isn't period appropriate, including the floors.
“We went and got new floors that were 100 years old that are re-purposed from another property,” said Allred. “Nothing is a replication or a current interpretation of something from the 30's. It's all stuff that was literally part of restaurants or speakeasies or clubs from that period.”
The Poker Room, as the new addition will be called, is poker room only by name. There won't be gambling (“We're not in Charles Town,” Allred stressed). But there will be a fully functioning service bar where patrons can order draft beer.
And with such attention to detail in mood and aesthetics, the ambiance is unmistakeably 30s even with more than six weeks left before opening.
“It'd be nice to have another alternative to [places like] Tuskies or Lightfoot,” said Quinten Johnson, town local and Shoes patron. “It will be nice to have something a little out of the way, a little more subdued.”
On top of adding beer and expanding the food menu, Shoes will put more focus and variety into its wine, reaching out to Loudoun winemakers.
Every other week, Shoes plans to host a wine-tasting from local winemakers, featuring those chosen wines by the glass until the next tasting.
“Shoes has always been pretty good at the 'Shoes and Cup' part,” said Allred. “The coffee shop part we've got down, and that doesn't need to change …
But the “and Cork” part, we've really got to focus on being a major part of this development. So the food menu has that in mind. Expanding the wine list has that in mind.”
The move to expand brings new opportunities for Shoes, but it also means good news for the Loudoun community.
The recycling and restoration of historic pieces is in keeping with the attitudes of Leesburg while providing additional year-round dining downtown.
And the continued focus of the restaurant and coffee shop is supporting local products and growth, a tradition continued from restaurants like Tuscarora Mill and Fireworks, which means money goes back into the community rather than being outsourced.
In an ever-growing county where new spots for dining and living like One Loudoun and Village at Leesburg are popping up all the time, it's important to create incentives for people to keep their sights on historic downtown.
“Here's another place where we can feature all of the great bounty of Loudoun,” said Allred. “Beyond that it gives people another reason to come to downtown. And we need new reasons to come downtown.”
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