Alexandria Businessmen buy Tula’s Off Main

By R.W Tagert

Tulas 020CROPPEDLocal Alexandrians, Mark Allen and John McCaslin, have recently purchased Tula’s Off Main, a contemporary American restaurant in Washington, VA (commonly referred to as Little Washington). I recently visited them at their restaurant to see if they had lost their minds…they haven’t. Both businessmen have homes in the area and absolutely love it out there, and they also bought the building.

McCaslin was born in Alexandra at the old Alexandria Hospital, which was located at Duke and Washington Streets. Five years ago McCaslin bought a home in nearby Woodville and permanently moved out there last year. “You know, fifty years ago when I was a kid, Old Town was a little like this is out here,” he tells me, “there was a lot of space and green.” “Reminds me of my youth!”

McCaslin graduated from Old Dominion University in 1980 with a degree in speech communication. In 1980 he began his journalism career in Kalispell, Montana (more green space), working as news director and anchor of radio station KOFI- AM. In 1982-84 he joined stations KJJR-AM and KBBZ-FM in Whitefish, Montana. He was also an award-winning correspondent for United Press International and was a stringer for NBC and ABC.

In 1984, McCaslin returned home and joined the Washington Times as a White House correspondent. He was appointed assistant national editor, and became metropolitan editor when DC Mayor Marion Barry was the target of a federal investigation and indictment. In 1992 he began writing the popular column Inside the Beltway, which was later syndicated by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate and Chicago Tribune Media Services. He has contributed to a number of publications including Reader’s Digest and Tennis as well as traveled all over the world as a travel writer.

McCaslin has been a regular guest on numerous local and national news programs. In June of 2009, McCaslin became co-host of America’s Morning News located here in Old Town and with 300 affiliate stations. It was a new format aimed at showcasing investigative reporting, accountability journalism and live reporting from around the country and around the world. Following massive cuts to the shows budget the writing was on the wall that the news product was declining and people were being let go, so in 2013 McCaslin resigned his position.

Now McCaslin’s many talents will be focused on the day- to-day operations of Tula’s and the office building. We can expect great things from this restaurant.

Mark Allen is a practicing Real Estate Lawyer with an office here in Old Town Alexandria located at 111 Oronoco Street. Allen has over 32 years of experience in real estate settlements. Allen has a well-regarded reputation as offering high quality service at very competitive prices. He has earned an AV Preeminent Peer Review by Martindale-Hubbell, the highest recognition possible in the legal industry.

Allen received his law degree from Georgetown University in 1980 and worked as Legislative Assistant/Press Secretary to U.S. Representative Melvin Price, U.S. House of Representatives from 1976-1979, and Law Clerk to Judge Robert L. Kuzig, U.S. Court of Claims, 1979-1980. In 1983 Allen opened his own law practice.

In the spring of 2014 Allen rented space in Little Washington and opened a satellite office while keeping his main practice in Alexandria. With a small farm in neighboring Culpeper, Allen found himself drawn to the area more and more, until he and McCaslin decided to purchase the building from Ken Thompson, which not only contained his law office but Tula’s as well. “When Tula’s first started out it was just a corner “Danish and Coffee” shop,” Allen says, “When Ken bought it he enlarged it and made it into a small restaurant.” Over the next several months Thompson annexed the room next door and hired nationally known furniture maker Peter Kramer to create new flooring, new furniture and build a bar.

With the renovations and the addition of a large outdoor patio, Tula’s Off Main was complete. They have just rolled out their fall menu, which is sourced locally from over 30 Rappahannock County farms, farm stores, distilleries, vineyards and orchards.

“We are going about this slowly and carefully,” McCaslin says, “We want to develop our local sources with our farm-to-table approach as well as add more Virginia wine to our wine list.” (We here at the Old Town Crier have been writing about Virginia wines for over 25 years and they have come a long way, with some of the better ones being made within a 10-mile radius of Little Washington).

With fall upon us, it is a great time to hop in the car and take a drive to the mountains. I will explore a little more of this area in this month’s road trip since I will be on the Luray side of the mountains only about 15 miles from Tula’s Off Main.

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