Off the Menu: Restaurant News and Notes

A beloved coffee shop returns; a popular restaurant eyes a metamorphosis; and a new-to-town shake shop is looking for your best over-the-top recipe to feature on its menu. There’s so much happening in the Alexandria food scene this month; let’s dive in.

Abyssinia Market and Café reopens

After a temporary shutdown, Abyssinia Market and Café at 720 Jefferson Street has reopened its doors to customers in need of caffeination, treats, and a friendly atmosphere.

“Great news. I’m very happy to announce that we’ll be reopening the coffee shop (last) Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. … Our regular hours will be posted on our door. All beer and wines are on sale (and) everything must go. Thank you for all the love and support you showed us,” a café rep posted on social media last week.

The shop, whose faithful following stood at attention during the pandemic when owner Lily Damtew’s mask policy sparked vitriol and violence from one resident, has become a darling of South Old Town, and news of its recent closure rippled through its fanbase. Now, customers can breathe a sigh of relief that their beloved shop is back in action.

Café 44 rebranding, to expand into Jula’s Café

A victim of its own success? Perhaps. And, thus, Café 44 is expanding its footprint – and changing its name – in a summertime project that, the restaurant promises, will have no impact on customers as work takes place.

“My, how we’ve grown,” begins an announcement on Café 44’s website. “… This exciting expansion includes a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, a customer-facing raw bar and charcuterie bar, a central bar with a view of the Capitol and the Potomac, a private dining room, a wine room, a social media nook, and so much more.”

Phase one of the project at 44 Canal Center Plaza, Suite 401, is underway with a late-June ETA; phase two, which encompasses the existing Café 44 space, is slated for completion by September.

The Crazy Mason looking for special Alexandria creation

As reported in these pages earlier in the year, The Crazy Mason cometh to 716 King Street – and the shop needs your help to concoct its “Signature Crazy Creation” for the new Alexandria location. The milkshake shop, which specializes in over-the-top shakes teeming with the likes of cookies, waffles, cupcakes and more, features locally themed creations on its menu – and is looking for the perfect recipe to reflect Alexandria.

To participate, submit your best proposal to the shop’s Facebook page – and may the best shake win!

Hope Nelson is the author of “Classic Restaurants of Alexandria” and owns the Kitchen Recessionista blog, located at Email her any time at