Photograph by Rebecca Cooper
Galaxy Hut owners Lary and Erica Hoffman always knew they were going to stick with the space theme for their next project. Now, a couple years after they started thinking about it, they’re finally ironing out the rest of the details.
First, the name was going to be Andromeda—but Erica thought it sounded too much like a Greek restaurant.* Then, Zodiac, but once they settled on a space in Falls Church that happened to be next to a psychic, they thought that would be confusing. After countless friends suggested they call it Spacebar, they decided to go for it.
The site they found for Spacebar in the old Stacy’s Coffee Parlor space at 709 West Broad Street met the rest of their criteria too. It’s sufficiently small and close to their Falls Church home. Maybe most important, says Erica Hoffman, it’s not in a strip mall.
“It’s pretty cool for a nightspot,” Erica says of the space, which is also above music store CD Cellar. “It’s kind of an interesting little building.”
The newly married couple says the ‘little’ was also important if spacebar was to replicate the Galaxy Hut model. “There’s a lot of things we like about keeping it small,” Lary says. “You don’t have to worry about sticking 200 people inside a place to be successful.”
Slated to open in November, Spacebar will be their first joint business venture, although they’ve had close ties to its predecessor for some time. Lary worked at Galaxy Hut before buying it from its previous owner six years ago, and the couple met when Erica was a happy hour regular at the bar while she pursued a master’s at George Mason.
Spacebar is a little bigger than Galaxy Hut; at 1,200 square feet, there will be seating for 50 and a 28-foot bar. And there’s room to grow. A planned rooftop and organic vegetable garden could nearly double the seating; but the owners have run into a little delay on the rooftop permit, mainly due to parking concerns.
Still, they’re confident it will happen—they’re just not sure when. “It’s something pretty new for the City of Falls Church, so they don’t have a precedent for how they handle that,” Erica says.
But downstairs should open in November, complete with 24 beers on draft, as well as bottles and occasional casks. The menu will expand, although it will stick with Galaxy Hut’s theme: good, casual bar food with ample vegetarian and vegan options. Oh, and grilled cheese.
That’s right, there will be as many as 15 different grilled cheeses on the Spacebar menu at any given time, including a fresh mozzarella option, pizza grilled cheese, a cheese steak grilled cheese, and a grilled cheese with smoked salmon and dill havarti, says Lary.
While he was initially billing the menu as more “gourmet” than Galaxy Hut’s, he has since readjusted that terminology. “I really didn’t even want to say ‘gourmet,’ or ‘taking it to the next level,’ ” he says. After all, it will still be a menu largely comprised of hot dogs, tater tots, and other bar food. “It’s basically going to focus on making more versions of the food that’s popular on the menu now,” he adds.
That includes offering a lot more bread options for sandwiches, and more locally sourced meats (and cheeses, for all that grilled cheese). “We’re really trying to go the route of local food,” Erica says, “and offer more diverse versions of the classics from Galaxy Hut.”
They’re going for the same Galaxy Hut vibe, so decor won’t stray too far from Galaxy Hut’s: tabletop video games, local art, hand-crafted items.
One difference: lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Serving lunch doesn’t mean they’ll fully Falls Church-ify, however. Spacebar will change into a 21-and-over spot at 5 PM Says Erica: “We thought lunch would be a good way to cater to that demographic, and give the families a chance to enjoy Spacebar, without having it turn into a stroller bar.”