Scott Shaw-A Man on the Go!
By Bob Tagert
You may have seen him walking around Old Town going from his office in Founders Hall to one of his restaurants, or attending a media briefing along the waterfront regarding the new Tall Ship Providence. He is not flamboyant, but is always on the go. Today Scott Shaw is a principle in Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP) which own and operate seven restaurants in Alexandria and Shirlington as well as one in Orlando, Florida. Shaw was also the motivating force in bringing the city government and the private sector together to bring the Providence to the Old Town waterfront. All this, however, was years in the making.
Originally from Coconut Grove, Florida, Shaw moved here in 1994 to reconnect with Rob Wilder, a college roommate who had recently opened the South Austin Grill at 801 King Street. Wilder and Shaw had met in Austin, Texas in the early 80’s and opened a homemade ice cream shop. The Austin Grill was an immediate hit and Shaw helped grow the business to eight locations around the DC metro area. In 2000, Shaw left the Austin Grills and started another Alexandria based company called Fishbowl, which is comprised of marketing software and analytics for restaurants.
In 2016 he sold Fishbowl and went back to his first love of running restaurants. Some friends who then owned Virtue Feed & Grain restaurant and were struggling were looking for someone to help. Shaw contacted two friends he used to work with in Florida and they came up to do a “restaurant rescue”. They were only planning to stay for about 90 days but both men fell in love with the building and the city and eventually signed a long term management contract with the restaurant owners. Shaw and his friends created ARP starting with the management contract for Virtue. Shortly after they also signed a management contract with Jason Yates to open and manage Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza. Eventually the three partners decided they wanted to do their own restaurants so they bought the Majestic Restaurant and then bought the Waterfront Market and turned it into Vola’s.
As ARP began to expand their business they opened Mia’s Kitchen at 100 King St. and added the Hi-Tide Lounge to Vola’s. Their only move out of Alexandria was to open Pallette 22 in Shirlington. Earlier this year they opened the Riverside Taco Trailer that resides on City Dock and bought a large stake in Joe Theismann’s Restaurant where they have just doubled the bar capacity. With all of this action you would think that he would be slowing down…not.
In the new Robinson landing project on the waterfront, ARP has contracted for another restaurant. “Actually it will be two restaurants in one”, he tells me, “there will be a small plate Mediterranean concept on the pier that will be seasonal and called Barca, which is Spanish for small boat, and we thought that appropriate since it will be on the pier. The second restaurant will be called the Shore Line, a wood-fired steakhouse, seafood and a vegetarian concept.” Shaw also indicates that this will be their last restaurant.
Back in 1994 Shaw was renting an office where we had our offices on 112 South Patrick Street and was thinking about writing the great American novel. It was also about this time that he was introduced to his soon-to-be bride, Camille, by his good friend and ours, Andrea Leheup. They began to date and seven months later were engaged. “We decided that we wanted to elope,” he tells me, “so we went to Barnes and Noble to see if they had a book on eloping. They told me they did but after doing a computer and shelf search they couldn’t find anything. I kept the office and put the great American novel away and wrote a book on eloping called Let’s Elope that is in its fifth edition by Random House.” For the 20th anniversary he is bringing out a new book called the Art of Eloping!
In sails the Tall Ship Providence. “I noticed that the city’s waterfront was becoming a reality, and Alexandria has a history as one of America’s first seaport towns,” he begins, “as I investigated I found out more about the sailing heritage of this port city and decided a tall ship was needed on the waterfront.” I can agree with this assessment as I sailed for years on the 123-foot three-masted schooner, Alexandria, until she was sold and later sunk off the coast of North Carolina. Since then, a water front ship has been sorely missed. Shaw took notice of tall ships visiting Alexandria over the past few years and how popular they were. “There were lines around the corner and a two hour wait to see these beautiful ships,” he noted.
Shaw put a committee together for advice and guidance and the Tall Ship Providence was born. If you have been reading this publication for the last five months you would already know about the Providence. After extensive restoration work and electrical upgrades the ship is once again back on the banks of the Potomac and will be opening for tours and excursions soon.
I have known Scott Shaw for a good while but have now learned just how intense and smart he is and admire his dedication to succeeding. He is one of the new rising stars in our community and his vision and leadership will be something to watch and grow. If you see him walking briskly down the street say hi, but be assured, he is on a mission.