Fri. Nov 15th, 2019

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Community reflects on Falafel Joint’s unexpected closure

3 min read

William Street business closes as owners move in different directions. (Photo courtesy of Shelby Bell / The Blue & Gray Press)

By RILEY RANDALL

Staff Writer

After less than a full year in business, The Falafel Joint has closed its doors. The restaurant was attached to and shared a kitchen with Sugar Shack on William Street.

“Things are complicated at the moment,” said Azadeh Rahmani, co-owner of The Joint. “The best reason we can give is that we ended our relationship with the independent owners of Sugar Shack Fredericksburg and are no longer affiliated with them personally or professionally.”

Edwin Grimes, the current owner of Sugar Shack Fredericksburg, is also a majority co-owner of The Joint.  

“As a partnership, we wanted to move in different directions,” he said. “The ownership group decided together that as a business we needed to close down.” Grimes also said that making a profit with the business was a growing issue as well.

Some students around campus are disappointed with the closing. Austin Jones, a senior accounting major, visited The Falafel Joint several times before its closing and was unhappy when the news broke.

“It was a bummer to hear that The Joint closed down,” said Jones. “I will miss it, mostly just because it was the only local place for falafel and shawarma.”

Jones said he enjoyed the combination of service and the ambiance.

“The workers were extremely friendly,” said Jones. “The Joint had a chill and relaxed vibe to it which made it a fun place to go to. It was also very quick so you didn’t have to spend a lot of time there… the decor was very interesting to look at; they had tons of old pictures of Fredericksburg all over.”

The restaurant, located in the rear of Sugar Shack, served authentic falafel and chicken shawarma. The recipes were crafted and perfected for months before opening, the owners said.

“My husband and I, alongside our good friend, worked on recipes we gathered from their deployments and from our friends’ and family’s handed down recipes for months until we felt the falafel and chicken were perfected,” said Rahmani. “It took me three months to get the right bread and to convince the supplier to take a chance on us.”

After a rocky start, Rahmani and Grimes both attribute their growth in customers to their social media presence.

“Social media played a big role in initially attracting customers, and we also had a couple of articles about us that helped greatly,” said Rahmani.

The official Facebook page, “The Joint FXBG,” has over 1,700 likes and is filled with positive reviews and an average rating of 4.9/5.  A recent review from Barbara Grennen describes the food as “amazing.” If ever she was having a bad day, the reviewer continues, “everything just changed… smile on my face and belly full.”

Rahmani said that sometimes ideas and motivations of the owners of Sugar Shack and The Joint clashed, including the use of the limited parking in the area.  

“This was an understandable compromise [with Sugar Shack] and one we worked around as best as we could,” she said.

Grimes said that the working relationship was fine throughout the life of the business and reiterated that the profitability of the business was the main point of contention. Though Grimes owns 51 percent of The Joint as a co-owner, he stressed that the one percent extra was for legal purposes and that decisions were always discussed and split 50-50.

Grimes said he personally does not plan to open a new location, though he also said he couldn’t speak on behalf of the other partners. Rahmani is unsure of what the immediate future holds, but said that “the outpouring of support and the constant messages has been overwhelming and is not something we can ignore.”  

She added, “We love Fredericksburg, and we especially love that more and more UMW students were discovering us. We look forward to more peace, more love and more falafel in the future.”

Grimes does not have any immediate plans for filling the empty space. The kitchen equipment is owned by his other partners and will be removed soon, leaving the space for another business to potentially move in.

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