The team behind Compass Rose and Maydan are putting the finishing touches on the first of two Northern Virginia restaurants—including a name change. Their kebab-centric Eastern Mediterranean concept—opening next month in Fairfax’s Mosaic District—formerly went by Tawle. But owner Rose Previte has since decided to go with a more personal name that won’t be confused with Maydan’s family-style “tawle” menu: Kirby Club.
No, not the cucumber. Kirby Club nods to a Lebanese-American social club in the Ohio town in which Previte’s mother grew up. It was founded by immigrants like Previte’s maternal grandmother, from the village of Kherbet Khanafar (“Kirby” in American slang). The social group, launched in 1933, would host dances and picnics in their new American hometown that doubled as matchmaking events for eligible first-and-second-generation Lebanese-American offspring. Potluck spreads featured Middle Eastern salads, flatbreads, and of course, kebabs.
“Being Lebanese-American in Ohio, we stuck out. Food was our way of connecting,” says Previte, whose mother ran a Lebanese catering business. The restaurant will take on the 70s aesthetic of her childhood. “Kirby Club is the essence of what we want to do with the food. There are original recipes from my childhood, or [chef] Omar [Hegazi] growing up in Egypt, but through an American lens as well.”
Kebabs will star at the 80-seat, full-service restaurant and bar in Mosaic—which will also offer a substantive takeout/delivery option and a few grab-and-go items. The team will draw on grilling and baking traditions in Turkey, Lebanon, and Syria for the menu. Hegazi will also offer homey items from his native Egypt like fava-and-herb falafel fried with sesame seeds, bessara (a creamy fava dip), or a grilled-and-pickled eggplant salad he likens to kimchi. (“It was always in the fridge and we put it on everything,” he says.) Diners can order meat, seafood, and vegetable kebabs with homemade flatbread, rice, salads, a variety of seasonal vegetables, and of course, a Maydan-esque kaleidoscope of condiments.
“We want to make pita and kebab the new taco,” says Previte. “At one time Mexican food was foreign, but now it’s our adopted cuisine. I want to do that for kebabs.”
The team is also playing with Eastern Mediterranean-American mashups like tahini or date soft-serve. A bar will pour cocktails influenced by flavors from the kitchen, plus wines from lesser-represented regions and makers.
Once the Mosaic restaurant is up and running, the team can focus on future projects. A second Kirby Club is bound for Clarendon this spring with more dining room and a rooftop bar. As first sussed out by Eat DC, Maydan’s owners also have a new DC project at 1328 Florida Ave., NW across the alley from the Michelin-starred restaurant. Previte says they’re still very much in the planning stages of space, which has capacity for roughly 65 inside and a patio. But she says one thing is for sure: the spot won’t be a Kirby Club. Expect a reveal in the coming months and an opening sometime next year.
Kirby Club. 2910 District Ave., Fairfax